Kevin West
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Kevin West

Charleston, South Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | SELF

Charleston, South Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2001
Solo Rock Americana




"REVIEW: Kevin West Explores Americana On The New EP ‘Story Of My Life’"

The good thing about Americana is that it is a pretty all-encompassing term. It can range from country and bluegrass to jazz. Story of My Life by Kevin West is an album that embraces a lot of the various facets (including jazz in the last two songs) of Americana.

The EP kicks off with “Best of Mine”. This upbeat song is driven by the beat that makes it impossible to remain still. Even if you’re hearing it for the first time, there is something familiar about this song. When you focus and think about it, you realize that the familiarity is in the tone of the guitar, which is pretty similar to Mark Knopfler.

West’s vocals occasionally have a similar quality to Dave Matthews. You can hear it particularly in the breathy delivery in “One Too Many”. This song has the familiar theme of a regretful day after a night of drinking. The narrator admits that he woke up in the afternoon after having “one too many and then one more” the previous evening. In the instrumental break, Jonathan Lovett injects some soul into the song with a bright organ part. West’s vocal delivery isn’t the only similarity to Dave Matthews Band, You can also hear it in the jam-band feel toward the end of “Sweet Innocence”.

“My Only Sunshine” features some pedal steel and a shuffling beat that would get people moving on a scuffed hardwood dance floor. On top of that, it includes some incisive lyrics. “When I’m right I’m still wrong. She makes that clear. But I still get the last word when I say ‘Yes, dear.’” The overall tone is pretty warm and easygoing. You might call this a honky-tonk tune with a healthy dose of laid-back California mood.

While some albums are great for driving or blaring out your windows, this album is the perfect soundtrack for lying in the shade of a tree on a sunny summer day. With only six songs, this EP leaves you wanting more of the clean guitar tones and good stories in the songs. Story of My Life was released on June 15 and is available everywhere now. - Americana Highways

"Album | Kevin West – Story of My Life"

In his time, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Kevin West has run the gamut on performance style. Starting somewhere around the blues, West’s nomadic studying habits saw him investing in the structures of hard rock, metal, jazz, and hip-hop along the way. Now, he’s reinvented himself yet again as a consummate contributor to today’s Americana movement.

Lesser artists might claim to have labored behind such multifarious musical journeys to get to where they are today only to come across as self-indulgent or karaoke at best, of course, but West is the real deal. For as we l-traveled previous pathways have been for him, the investment that he has offered each of them has brought him to a place of marksman-esque musical precision. Pair this with a genuine passion in the music that he sets out to create, and we have a rare instance of an actual songwriting chameleon. West’s Americana is just as legitimate as those who have been cutting their teeth in the genre for much more singularly, if not more multi-sided. As a recent graduate of Hollywood’s Musicians Institute, too, he’s able to coordinate his newest music with an academic knowledge paired with all of what has been inherent to him from his previous artistic endeavors.

He proves as much in his latest EP, entitled Story of My Life. Thirteen years after the release of his “folk-hop” release, My Life and Times, West has had the time to lean in on the former half of what made his previous work tick. In doing so, Story of My Life mostly comes around as a well-textured Americana release. Not dissimilar to throwback roots rock this side of Tom Petty or Jackson Browne, West’s subtle, rock-driven grit offers itself well to interpreting a series of blue collar road anthems. He comes out rolling with the infectious melodies of “Best of Mine” and explores that soulful, old-school California sound throughout much of the album to positive results thereafter.

West breaks from his newly established norms on the EP’s titular track, however, invoking a collective of brass, keys, bass, and so on to envelop listeners in a jazz-centric sound. The slow-burning track is a full showcase of West’s maestro-level songwriting sensibilities, driven by sweet guitar tones, steady percussion, and a cool blend of trumpet, sax, and keys that keep things sensual and melodious. The vibe keeps going with closing track “Not for Nothin'”, too, wherein West and company get down in the funk of a grooving urban jazz instrumental.

So, despite the new roots rock outfit, West isn’t keeping himself in one place. Instead, the artist uses his colorful background in all of his various musical studies to create a new side to Americana. It’s one that keeps all of its folk, rock, and country fixtures, but also isn’t afraid to showcase the other side of the music that has made up the overarching “roots” label. Bringing jazz-hop and the blues along for the ride instead of shying them off pays homage to West’s roots, giving him a legitimacy paired with that innovator’s streak of his.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm - For Folk Sake

"Kevin West Releases Tasty ‘Story Of My Life’"

Singer-songwriter Kevin West recently dropped a new EP, called Story of My Life.

Describing the EP, West says, “My songs are about my real life experiences and I think that gives it an honest quality people can relate to. The level of musicianship on THIS project is the best I have achieved so far in this long life of music I have been living.”
Born in San Diego, raised in New Jersey, followed by a stint in Charleston, South Carolina, and now living in L.A., West’s sound blends blues, rock, metal, hip-hop, jazz, and Americana into resonant songs about life’s trials and tribulations, as well as its scintillating beauty.

Story of My Life features a number of Charleston’s premiere musicians, including members of Ranky Tanky and Danger Muffin.

Encompassing six-tracks, the EP begins with “Best Of Mine,” a country-flavored indie rock number reflecting cool savors of SoCal soft rock amalgamated with Southern aromas. Reminiscent of The Allman Brothers Band, the song rides a compelling beat topped by deliciously drawling guitars.

“One Too Many” features a bluesy Americana melody on a measured groove. An oozing organ and a dirty guitar tone infuse the tune with dripping textures, as West’s slightly twangy voice delivers lyrics about a woman and too much alcohol.

“My Only Sunshine” rides a bouncy, buoyant melody atop a tasty rhythm. A gleaming piano and delicate guitar licks give the music a scrumptious flavor. Softly radiant vocal harmonies join with West’s Hank Williams-inflected voice, imbuing the tune with cool retro essence.

“Sweet Innocence” is a beautifully gentle SoCal country-rock number, with a stellar pedal steel guitar, delightful vocal harmonies, and a glistening guitar solo full of finesse and elegance. The title track delivers a blues-laced melody full of creamy jazz hues. This is a personal favorite because of its smooth flow and West’s evocative voice.

“Not For Nothin’” opens on a funky jazz beat crowned by a neat guitar and bright braying horns. A simmering, leaching organ adds metallic colors, as a tasty sax lays down a low-slung solo.

Story of My Life is surprisingly captivating. Infectious melodies, potent rhythms and West’s easy-to-listen-to voice make this EP a winner. -

"Story of My Life Album Blends Folk & Soul Vibes"

Story of My Life carries all the traits of a perfect folk song, while incorporating vibes of soul and bluegrass. With the vocals of Kevin West carrying the lyrics into an experience for the listener, it should not come as a surprise that West has been musical since a young age. Hailing originally from California, one can hear the beach-influenced vibes that are present in his music, best characterized by the light guitar anthems, and strong vocals. A memorable track from this album for me was One Too Many. One will notice first and foremost West’s way of crafting the story into a song and this one with the lyrics “I tried to rub away the cob webs from another late night”, and “I don’t know what time it was when I got to bed, I don’t know”. These lyrics hit the feeling of an all nighter with friends, paired up with the overwhelming excitement, recounting thoughts of when you don’t even know what time you went to bed. He paints the picture very well with his songwriting, he draws listeners in and promotes a level of coexisting with his audience as he recounts on his experiences, chances are they are also the listeners as well. - Music Court

"LOCAL ACT ? The Life Experiences Kevin West puts it all out there ... with a groove"

"Sometimes, I wonder if it's smart to put all these life experiences out there on an album ... where people will know more about me than I cared to let them know," says songwriter and guitarist Kevin West, who celebrates the official release of his new, independently-produced album My Life & Times this week. "As an artist, I feel like you have to do it. I'm sure a lot of my life experiences are similar to a lot of other people's. I'm singing from what my life was at certain times, but people relate to honesty, and I think they'll relate with this."

Born in San Diego and raised in northern New Jersey, West grew up in what he calls a "lower-middle class blue-collar environment" — an experience often reflected in his lyrics. He relocated to Charleston in 1995 and worked his way into the local club scene as a singer/guitarist doing his own tunes and a variety of funky renditions of rock and pop classics.

"I grew up as a heavy metal kid," West says. "I first started playing guitar when I was like 8 years old because of Ozzy's guitarist Randy Rhoads. Throughout the '80s, I liked the good metal, but not the bad hair metal. I could never see myself wearing spandex and poodle hair. I picked up an acoustic guitar and checked out some classic music. The '90s came along, and, all of a sudden, the solo singer/songwriter thing became popular. I was used to playing by myself anyway, so I worked on becoming a vocalist, too. I never could find the right person to sing for me, so out of necessity, I became a singer. I went through a phase where I listened to a lot of classic acoustic singer/songwriters like Harry Chapin, James Taylor, and Jim Croce. I got into Jeffrey Gaines and Dave Matthews."

Voted "Best Male Vocalist" by City Paper readers in 1997 and '98, he eventually formed a full band with a loose rotation of local players. His current backing band includes drummer Alan Brisendine, bassists David Hodges and Blair Halford, guitarist Kenny Meyer, and keyboardist Daniel Walker (who played on most of the new album).

"My little brother, Mike [a.k.a "O.C."], moved down here from New Jersey. His whole life, he's been rapping. He was totally into hip-hop. I used to not even like hip-hop when I was younger; I thought it was all machines and beats with no real musicians. I was sort of ignorant because I never really listened. Once I really listened to 2Pac, The Roots, Eminem, Common, and others — and their stories — I really got into it. The true hip-hop artists really have something to say."

The 18-track My Life & Times is a musical jumble of hip-hop and rap, slow-moving grooves, acoustic and electric modern rock, foul-mouthed comedy skits, and lyrical storytelling.

"This album has such a huge hip-hop element to it, but it's not enough for the hip-hop radio stations ... and there's too much hip-hop in it for most rock stations," shrugs West. "It could be a rough place to be, but I figure that most music that gets anywhere succeeds because it's something different and doesn't sound like everybody else."

Semi-modern hip-hop sounds and styles made their way into most of the songs — sometimes without proper credit. Lead-off track "Carolina Love" — featuring raps from Ace, PHEVE, O.C., Number One Contender's P Huck, and Double O's Ryan Phillips — carries on about the life "in the city of James Island ... and in the city of Folly Beach" without listing any credit to the original version: it is an obvious reworking of 2Pac's and Dr. Dre's "California Love," released as a single in '95 and featured on 2Pac's '96 album All Eyez on Me. The tune traces back to a collaboration between funk drummer Woody Cunningham and Zapp keyboardist Roger Troutman. For the 18 tracks on the disc, the only writing credits listed read as follow: "All songs and original skits written and produced by Kevin West." Most, perhaps ... but not quite all.

"Well, 'Carolina Love' is definitely derived from 2Pac's 'California Love,'" says West. "I checked with the publishers and cleared it, but I wasn't sure how to include that information in the sleeve. I'm definitely not trying to claim it as a songwriter.

"There were little things along the way that weren't exactly planned, but mostly, every detail on the album was thoroughly planned out," asserts West, who began recording the basic tracks for My Life & Times in March '05, but was nearly sidelined from bone-fusion surgery in his neck in April. "For most of the making of the album I was in a neck brace and a lot of pain [laughs]. It was a rough summer. In a weird way, making this album was a strange blessing. Now, I'm ready to go."

- Charleston City Paper

"To see press clipling for First album "On The Way To Nowhere" please go to photo section (Photo #9)"

To see press clipling for First album "On The Way To Nowhere" please go to photo section (Photo #9) - To see press clipling for First album "On The Way To Nowhere" please go to photo section (Photo #9)

"In the Jukebox: Kevin West"

In the Jukebox: Kevin West
A review of local singer/guitarist West's latest solo effort
by T. Ballard Lesemann

Kevin West
Once in a Lifetime

A few years ago, Charleston singer/guitarist Kevin West was being touted by friends and fans as the master of the rock/hip-hop hybrid — a funk master with a way with rhymes and rhythms. West, a skillful musician with a versatile style, can handle a solo gig with ease, and he can hang confidently in any rock, funk, or soul band setting.

West's local performances have come in waves in the years since he released his last album, 2006's My Life and Times. On his newly released, independently produced solo album, Once in a Lifetime, life and time are at the heart of the record once again — plus a few attempts at being sexy-cool.

Recorded at the local Collective Recording Studio with engineer Alan Price (of Souls Harbor), it's a crisp production and a balanced mix. Bassist Jesse Anderson, drummer Karl Anderson, guitarist Kenny Meyer, and other special guests proficiently fill the role as a backing band.

Musically, Once in a Lifetime is a scattered, meandering collection with dual personalities, however — like two very different mini albums crammed into one long player. Half of it tries to jam out with contemporary soul-rock funkiness. The other half lilts and flows as a more introspective folk-rock set.

Once in a Lifetime starts off with the Lenny Kravitz-esque "Sky High," one of the funky full-band songs of the set. Based on a total rip of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" (the main riff appears to be the same as the bassline of the famous chorus), it's a shaky opener. "Excuse Me, Beautiful" continues in a similar vein, but with more booty-chasin' attitude and a rickety sense of rhythm.

West sounds like he's forcing his rhymes and lyrics. Some of the lines are painfully boastful. West's main character comes off as a self-important braggert, rapping about his swagger and sex appeal. The overly syncopated "I'm Alright" and disco-beat "No One Does it Better" make the vibe redundant.

Thankfully, the double acoustic guitar ballad "One Too Many" — a more personalized and melancholic tune with a whiff of boozy sorrow — aims for the opposite direction. It's the first of several more laid-back tracks that lay off the braggadocio, "Hey lady, won't you lay with me" nonsense.

"Everything" contains some of West's most potent lyrical work. The line, "No one ever thought I'd be where I am now/Still, here I am somehow," sums up his sense of survival and willingness to drop his guard.

Trumpeter Kenny Price adds a brassy melody that complements West's steady strumming. The emotional and waltzy title track features the songwriter at his most pained. Raspy and passionate, this one should have been the foundation for the entire collection.
- Charleston City Paper

"Kevin West puts the funk in his new rock"

Kevin West puts the funk in his new rock
Getting up, getting down
by Jared Booth

Songwriter and guitarist Kevin West regularly embraces the scenery of the Lowcountry. The cover of his 2001 debut On the Way to Nowhere featured a silhouetted figure with a guitar strapped to his back standing on the corner of George and Glebe streets downtown. His next album, 2006's My Life and Times, placed the same figure in front of the loading gate at the Music Farm. For his latest, Once in a Lifetime, West knew exactly where his avatar would be standing: Center Street on Folly Beach.

"I've been living on Folly and James Island for most of my adult life," says West. "I feel such a kinship with it. So for my third album, I had to show where my heart is: Folly Beach, my favorite place in the whole world."

Recorded at Collective Recording Studio in West Ashley, guided by the hand of engineer and veteran local musician Alan Price, the new album is essentially the acoustic sibling of the hip-hop centric My Life and Times, which featured West's younger brother Mike [a.k.a. "O.C."], an established rapper in his own right.

If My Life and Times embellished the usual rock band production with drum machines and digital samples, Once in a Lifetime aims for a more organic, Southern-fried funk-rock style — from the riffy opening grooves of lead-off track "Sky High" to the acoustic guitar-based ballads "One Too Many" and "So Long."

"Hip-hop was a better vehicle for me to tell my story," says West of his earlier work. "I've gone through a lot of difficult things, and if I'd gone in a singer/songwriter direction, it might have seemed whiny. But this album is more about my life now in Charleston, and it's much more representative of my live show."

While it doesn't tackle difficult subjects and life experiences, the new album is still very personal for West; his songwriting style has always leaned that way. In particular, he draws inspiration from Tupac Shakur and the frankness of the rapper's lyrics and rapping style.

"Tupac is one of my favorite artists of all time," says West. "Rappers seem to be able to tell their stories more clearly, while rock artists tend to be more vague about things. Once I started writing in that hip-hop fashion, it was hard to stop.

"I'm not a great storyteller," he continues. "I can't come up with a lot of fun, interesting things, but I write about my personal life and how I feel, and that's what people relate to. Like on the song 'One Too Many' [a sparse acoustic duet with singer Brittany Linder] — that could be a theme song for Folly Beach."

While West's influences range from hip-hop to heavy metal, Dave Matthews to Harry Chapin, the action of the local music scene invigorates and inspires him more than anything. Some of West's longest collaborations are reflected by the guest musicians on the album, including performances by bassist Jesse Anderson, drummer Karl Anderson, guitarist Kenny Meyer, and trumpeter Kenny Price.

"There's so many amazing artists in this town who are more influential to me than big rock stars," he says," "people like Graham Whorley and Elise Testone, who has one of the best voices I've ever heard. Where else can you go on a Monday night and see talent like Sarah Cole and the Hawkes? And everybody else keeps getting better, so I've gotta keep up." - Charleston City Paper

"Home » Music » In The Jukebox"

Kevin West

My Life & Times

On his latest, local songwriter, guitarist, and white-dude rapper Kevin West attempts to overlap funky acoustic rock with funky hip-hop and soul. The groove-filled, Carolina-centric collection is comprised of a dozen songs and a handful of comedy skits based on his own true-life experiences. Musically, it's all over the map, with acoustic and electric modern rock tunes, dirty-word rhymes and stories, and a few bouncy rap-rock hybrids. Around a traditional rock band style of production, there's plenty of drum machine rhythm tracks, samples, and electronic loops. West's kid brother, Mike West [a.k.a "O.C."], stands out as one of the rappers alongside Alex Carpenter [a.k.a. "ACE"]. My Life & Times makes a few weird turns from one style to another, but it bounces throughout. —TBL

- Charleston City Paper


Five albums, 'Story Of My Life', Meaning Of Life', 'Once In A Lifetime', 'MY LIFE & TIMES' and 'On The Way To Nowhere' NOW AVAILABLE AT, itunes, and all other online music outlets 



March 2019 Musicians Institute Hollywood honors graduate Kevin West (1st prize winner of American Songwriter Magazine's lyric contest July/August 2006), is a throwback Singer-songwriter/ Guitar player. Playing guitar and singing since a child, Kevin has studied many styles of music including Blues, Hard Rock, Metal and Hip-Hop. He also studied Jazz at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. 

Born in San Diego CA. and raised in northern New Jersey, Kevin West grew up in a lower middle class blue collar environment which is often reflected in his lyrics. His writing tells stories about living in the real world and how rough it can be, though sometimes using humor to make his point.
Living and performing in Charleston for a number of years now, Kevin has played in many bands with numerous musicians, on just about every stage in town. From playing at Charleston’s famed Music Farm or The Wind Jammer, opening for national acts like Rehab, Afro Man, Long Beach Dub All Stars/Short Bus and Kevin Kinney (Just to name a few) to doing acoustic sets at intimate venues downtown and on the beaches. Big show or small, Kevin's love for the music is easy to see in every performance. He was voted “CHARLESTONS BEST MALE VOCALIST” in 1997 and again in 1998 in the Charleston City Paper.
Charleston is not the only city where West has done his act. Audiences at The Cubby Bear in Chicago, Rays Boom Boom Room in New Orleans and various clubs in cities such as New York, Richmond, Atlanta, Va. Beach, and Columbia , SC have also seen him do his thing.
His first album “On The Way To Nowhere” (2001) is a compilation of songs that was put together from recordings made throughout the late 90’s. A variety of Charleston’s best musicians can be found accompanying Kevin West on this one.
On his last album "My Life & Times" (2006) Kevin West created a Hip-Hop/Singer-Songwriter cross over sound that showcased his talent as an artist as well as a producer. By using jazz chords, singer songwriter arrangements, Hip-Hop beats, 16 to 20 bar rhyme schemes and strong hooks. Then, adding original comedy skits, sound bites and other forms of studio magic give the album a sound that’s truly unique.
Kevin's newest album "Once In A Lifetime" (To be released July 8th 2011) is a back to basics kind of album. This project is more performance based. A Guitar Player/ Singer-Songwriter sound as opposed to the Hip-Hop feel of his previous endeavor. "Once In A Lifetime" is an excellent example of what Kevin West sounds like when you see him live.
Along with playing music for a living, Kevin has done countless performances and hands on volunteer work for many low country charities to include, Communities in Schools, My Sisters House, Happy Days And Special Times, North Charleston Juvenile Detention Center, Make A Wish Foundation, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and ”COURAGEOUS KIDZ”.
With every album, as with every performance it is clear that Kevin West is constantly growing as an artist, a musician and as a person